Aled and Ben's Autumn 29er Report

Ben and Aled - Team Riders

Our 29er campaign may have only just started but we feel we are out of the blocks quickly and really happy with our progress…

There is always so much to learn but we are moving forward and head into this winter’s training just where we want to be.

Grand Prix 1

Our first racing event of this autumn was Grand Prix 1 in Weymouth in September and we had plenty of breeze. We’d trained there the week before and we both know the venue really well so we had some confidence going in. We’d worked hard on our upwind which stood us in good stead but as we found out, there was quite a lot more to it than that. As we expected, we were really quick upwind in our races and many times we felt we had things under reasonable control given our experience, but the error count didn’t keep us up there. A few spills downwind left us clawing back the points and we finished 31st in the end, roughly half way up the fleet. For a breezy weekend this was ok but we also knew we’d taken a lot of points where we didn’t need to, so we left Weymouth feeling hungry...

Training and preperation

Since then we worked hard in training as well as carefully preparing the boats and ensuring we are in the best shape possible. We’re working hard with our coaches and the work is paying off slowly, and we are extremely grateful to everyone who continues to support and sponsor us.

Our first 29er win

RYA Cymru Wales’ BYS Regional Junior Championships medalThe effort began to show as we went into the autumn period. We won the RYA Cymru Wales’ BYS Regional Junior Championships in Pembrokeshire at the end of September. It’s a great event where we always catch up with our friends in other classes as well as serious sailing against the best in our region. We’ve both had success at this event in the past so winning in the 29er together was a proud moment for us both.

Then we moved on to the Harken 29er Grand Prix 2 in Lymington in mid-October. It was another windy event that tested both the boats and the sailors. With 20+ knots and wind-over-tide in the Solent you get very choppy conditions that really test you. While many broke their masts and gear, we were fine. We got to grips with the choppy conditions and learnt a lot from it. Once again we felt we had good pace and just need to sharpen up in a few specific areas. The things we worked on were really improved which was great and our results stepped up a lot. We closed that event in 19th place and 2nd Junior team overall so we were a lot happier coming away from that one!

Since then, we’re continuing to train and every opportunity to get in the boat is being taken. We’ve spent time with both our boats replicating the set up on each so that whether we’re racing or training we can go 100% with gear that is always helping us to move forward. It hasn’t come without a few sketchy moments and sorry tales, but some damage is to be expected if you push your equipment hard…!

Our sailing gear

Similarly our Neil Pryde gear has been amazing this year… It’s been colder recently and with the water temperatures down it was with some regret that we left the 1mm Elite Firewire suits in the kit-bag. But that didn’t last long. The 3mm suits are equally amazing. Comfort and mobility is the best we’ve experienced – genuinely. We can sail and push ourselves knowing we’ve got kit that is also helping to take us forward. Seriously, that’s not just a comment for the sponsor, go and try it… The NeilPryde neoprene is the best kit we’ve ever had!

Ben and Aled - Team Riders

29th in our 29er…

Ben and Aled SailingAnother highlight of our Autumn was a big performance in Bart’s Bash. Being in Weymouth we had the opportunity to race in the event right there in Portland Harbour, hosted by the Andrew Simpson Sailing & Watersports Centre. Over 180 sailors took part, including a big fleet of 29ers and it was a big occasion.

We had good breeze coming over Chesil beach and our plan was to go left to hit the convergence. We gave up the bias at the pin in order to start at the committee boat because being one of the faster boats in the handicap fleet, we felt we could pop out early from there and cross the fleet in clear air and lots of room. It worked perfectly and we were soon trucking across the fleet to the left. We tacked short of the lay-line and closed into mark one with a 49er, 49erFX and a 5-0-5 for company. We rounded second.

Three laps later we crossed the line, and when results were posted we saw we'd come 2nd overall at Weymouth. We also found we were first ranked 29er in the event worldwide, and 29th overall worldwide from 2193 sailors across 86 countries. It was an honour to race in Portland harbour with so many sailors and in memory of Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson. And to finish it in style was the icing on our cake.

 

Meeting all our 2018 goals

The very latest news is that we have recently had confirmation of our place in the 29er class Transition Squad for this winter and just heard that we've been given a place in the Welsh 29er Youth Squad too. This means we have achieved all our goals for 2018 and we have a great structure for our winter and some very competent sailors and coaches to work with us in the coming months.

We’re really excited about our future ahead and will check in again soon.

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